Tech Roundup


By Lottie


August 2023

Unbabel Introduces Thought-Powered Communication


Unbabel unveils its transformative 'Halo' project. By synergising the power of AI with EMG systems, this state-of-the-art brain-computer interface is poised to redefine the boundaries of communication. Especially impactful for ALS patients, this technology bridges their communication gap. As Unbabel continues to push technological limits, we are on the brink of an era where thoughts effortlessly become words, changing the way we connect with the world around us.

At Unbabel's startup office in Lisbon, a groundbreaking experiment demonstrated the potential of brain-to-computer communication. During this test, a text was sent to Unbabel's CEO, Vasco Pedro, inquiring about a coffee order. The answer, "Americano," returned through a text message, unveiling the innovative capabilities of this technology.

Unbabel, renowned for its enterprise language translation services, has ventured into brain-communication interfaces. The innovation team, led by CEO Vasco Pedro, embarked on a journey to explore the brain's evolutionary trajectory and its possible synergy with AI. Instead of the invasive EEG systems, the team chose to focus on EMG (electromyography) systems, which monitor muscle responses. By integrating an EMG system with generative AI, specifically an LLM (Language Model), they devised a mechanism that converts muscle reactions into comprehensible words.

During the experiment, Vasco received a message through an AI-augmented voice system. Upon formulating a mental response, the technology interpreted his EMG signals, subsequently generating a text message. This innovative method offers a semblance of an internal voice, paving the way for manifold communication possibilities.

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This pioneering technology, christened "Halo" by Unbabel, operates using an "E-Skin" EMG interface. With endorsements from Portugal's leading ALS association, the prototype indicates its prospective utility for patients facing communication challenges.

Paulo Dimas, the VP of Product Innovation at Unbabel, has assumed a leadership role at Portugal’s Center for Responsible AI. This new establishment is committed to propelling AI research forward. The rapid progression in wearable AI technology promises transformative applications, such as the potential of AI to decode brain activities and reproduce sounds like music.

Mind-controlled platforms, though a popular concept in media for decades are now edging closer to reality. With Unbabel's Halo attaining a communication pace of 20 words per minute, the ambition is set for a superhuman target of 150 words per minute.

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